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30 March 2018

DIY Tulle Autism Puzzle Piece Wreath

As most of you know, I have two boys with autism.  Both are higher functioning, but we have spent many hours in therapy over the years to get to this point.  One of my sons is still getting ABA and OT several times a week.  

There's always discord in the autism community, but one thing we mostly agree on is that there's need for awareness and acceptance.  Most people who aren't affected by autism have no idea what autism really is.  They picture Rain Man or a nonverbal, violent child.  Autism is so much more.

My boys are high functioning in most areas, so people don't always see their autism.  Believe me, it's there.  

April is autism awareness month.  I made this autism awareness puzzle piece wreath to hang in my office so people will see it and hopefully it will spark a good conversation about autism in our community.


Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission from sales

This wreath was inexpensive.  The only thing I bought new was the flat wood wreath.  I got mine at Pat Catan's, but I don't see it on their website.  The closest thing I can find is this wood wreath from Amazon.

If you have kids, then you have puzzles with missing pieces.  I grabbed a 100 piece puzzle that was missing a few pieces and used that for the puzzle pieces.




The wreath was brown, so I started by painting it white.  Originally, I was just going to use white tulle on the wreath, but I decided to add blue later.  I think it looks great as a white wreath even with the blue and white tulle.


After I painted the wreath, I painted the puzzle pieces.  I went with blue, red, and yellow for the traditional autism puzzle piece colors.  I wasn't sure how many I would need, so I did 25 of each color, which was more than enough for my wreath.  I didn't even use them all.  I painted the back of the puzzle pieces so I would only have to do one coat.  


I cut the tulle into 12 inch sections.  I doubled it over and wrapped it around the wreath and pulled the loose ends through the loop.  Pull tight.  

I used white and blue.  I think it would look great with red and yellow too.  

I didn't want a super full wreath.  I wanted the focus to be on the plaque in the center.  You can definitely make it fuller and use more tulle if you want.  


I laid the puzzle pieces on top of the wreath after I put on all of the tulle just to make sure I had enough (I had more than enough) and to get a general idea of the layout.  Then I glued them down with my glue gun.    


I had a little wood plaque in my craft stash, so I painted it white and used my Silhouette to die cut "until all the pieces fit" in black vinyl.  I used the font Bursta Brush and Oracal 631 indoor vinyl.  


I attached the plaque with red tulle.  I use a dab of hot glue on the back, but then I decided to use a stapler for better hold.

Just a note: I had to use my flash in my dining room because it doesn't get much sunlight.  I used one coat of paint for the puzzle pieces.  In person, they look great.  I think the flash is making the light reflect funny and makes them look streaked in the photos.  

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DIY tulle autism puzzle piece wreath.

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27 March 2018

SunIn Natural Hair Highlights Before & After Photos

This post has been sponsored by the PRIMP Network.  As always, all enthusiasm is my own.

I've always been fussy about my hair.  When I was a teenager, I wanted highlights.  My mother is not someone who spends a lot of time or money on her hair, so she vetoed this real quick.  I couldn't drive, so I couldn't get to the store to buy a kit.  

I did manage to talk her into a bottle of SunIn.  That summer, I finally had my highlights!  I was so thrilled to finally have a cool hair color.  

My daughter watches me go to the salon and get red and blonde streaks in my hair, so of course she wants highlights too.  She's 10-years-old and already growing up too quickly, so I'd like her to wait a few years before she starts with regular salon visits.  

She wanted to use SunIn natural hair highlights, and I agreed.  I knew her hair would look natural, so we spent an hour doing her hair last weekend.  

26 March 2018

How to Make Bone Broth in an Instant Pot

Make this bone broth (chicken stock) in your Instant Pot in under an hour!

My dad and stepmom got me an Instant Pot for Christmas.  I think they were expecting me to cook dinner in it, but I made lotion in my Instant Pot.  After I cleaned it out, I did use it to make food.  I love making a whole chicken, beef roasts, and pork chops in it.

If you use an Instant Pot, then you know that you'll use a lot of chicken broth.  It needs a lot of water, and the broth just infuses flavor in your meat and makes it tender.

I've been making my own broth for years.  Normally, this means simmering a pot on the stove for hours and carefully watching it so it doesn't boil over.  I tried making it in the Instant Pot, and that's how I'll be making it from now on.

I just had to throw my ingredients in the liner, fill with water, and turn it o for 45 minutes.  Since you let it naturally release, I literally turned it on and walked away for a few hours.  

If you've never made your own broth, then you're in for a treat.  It has more flavor than store bought broth.  It's not as salty as using bullion, and I think bullion has a fake flavor anyway.  Making your own broth is inexpensive or even free when you use scraps.


If you don't have an Instant Pot, I love my 6 quart model.  They do have a larger model for bigger families, but my family of 5 ca use the 6 quart.  It's the perfect size for our main meal or a big batch of soup.  

I use my Instant Pot at least twice a week.  Not only does it make awesome food, but it's also helped me get out of my cooking rut and try new recipes.  Be sure to check out my Instant Pot board on Pinterest for recipes and inspiration.


So what's the difference?  Not much.

A stock is typically made with bits of meat and is thinner than bone broth.  Bone broth is made with the bones, so it has more collagen in it.  For the home cook, they are interchangeable.


Bone broth has a lot of benefits for your overall health.  It's high in minerals like calcium, silicon, sulfur, phosphorus, and magnesium.

It's also a natural source of glucosamine.  You've probably heard of glucosamine to promote joint health.  This is a natural way to add more to your diet.

Bone broth also has gelatin.  Gelatin helps strengthen your hair and nails, so it can even make you prettier!  Well, your nails and hair will be healthier and stronger anyway.  Gelatin also helps promote collagen production thanks to the proline amino acid.  Both gelatin and and boosted collagen production can help prevent the signs of aging.

I also like knowing that my broth is made with no additives or artificial flavors or colors.

I'll give you a base recipe that you can start with, but you can definitely modify it to fit your family and its needs.

I typically use celery, onions, garlic, and carrots.  You'll notice that carrots are missing because my daughter ate the pack I bought to make broth with. So this batch didn't get carrots, but I do normally add them.

I keep my food scraps in a bag in the freezer.  I use the ends of carrots and celery and onion peels.  I'll also throw in vegetables that are starting to go bad but aren't bad yet, like soft carrots or wilted celery.  I will also throw in mushrooms or other veggies except broccoli, cauliflower, or green peppers because they don't work well with this recipe.

I use a bay leaf, parsley, and thyme.  Sometimes I also add peppercorns.  You can use other herbs and spices; it's up to you.

I made a whole chicken in my Instant Pot last week, so I saved the bones from that.  You can also save chicken, fish, beef, or pork bones to use.  I keep them in the same bag as my veggie scraps, so I can throw them all in at once.


  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 onion (quartered)
  • 2 clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf



Place the bones and vegetables in an Instant Pot.


Fill with water to about an inch above the vegetables and bones.  Do not fill past the max fill line.


Use the high pressure setting for at least 45 minutes  You can cook it for as long as 120 minutes.


Let the Instant Pot release naturally.  I let mine go for about an hour after it finished just because I was busy.


Strain the broth to remove the solids.  I just use my colander because it has small holes at the bottom.  I don't worry if there are small bits and some herbs in my broth.  


Place the broth in the fridge overnight.  This helps the fat float to the top.

Remove the fat after it sits overnight. 


Remove the fat with a spoon.

I got about 6 cups of broth from one chicken carcass.

Your bone broth is now ready to use.  You could use it before it sits in the fridge all night, but know that there will be some fat in your broth.  If that's fine with you, then by all means use it then.  I really didn't get much fat out of my broth even after it sat all night.

You can now pressure can your broth, freeze it, or store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

I wish you could use the Instant Pot to pressure can it, but it doesn't get to a high enough pressure.  I've heard that they are making one that will be able to pressure can, so I'm excited to try that when it comes out.

For now, I freeze my broth.  I either put it in freezer containers with 2 cups in each container or pour into an ice cube tray.  Then I freeze the cubes to use in recipes.  Each cube is an ounce of broth.  I really like to use silicone ice cube trays because the broth cubes come out easier.


I use my bone broth whenever I need chicken stock.  I mainly use it in soups, but I'll also use it in mashed potatoes in place of some of the milk.  I've even boiled noodles in broth to infuse them with flavor.

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Learn how to make bone broth in an Instant Pot in under an hour.

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23 March 2018

Best Gifts for Children With Autism

Easter is on April Fool's Day this year.  I am so tempted to wrap grapes in chocolate wrappers or prank them somehow, but I don't think it will go over well. 

We focus more on the cross than the bunny for Easter, but Mr. Bunny still visits our house.  When the kids were really little, we told the Easter Bunny to give more gifts to kids who don't have a lot of toys because my kids are blessed with too many toys.  They get a basket with some fun spring and summer toys, but we don't go all out for Easter.  

Some kids with autism like to dye eggs, but some do not.  If your child doesn't wait to dye eggs, maybe he or she can help prepare them if they are old enough.  They could also use markers or stickers to decorate eggs.  Think outside the box so everyone has fun.  

I have a sensory seeker and a sensory avoider.  When they were little, I'd have one kid covered in egg dye from head to toe and one who didn't have a drop on him.  My daughter was somewhere in the middle of that.  

I'm creating this Easter gifts for children with autism guide for parents, grandparents, friends and family.  Keep in mind that children with autism often develop asynchronously.  They may play with some toys that are for older kids, yet they will play with other toys that are for younger children.  Caleb used to build elaborate tracks for Thomas that would go through two rooms and over obstacles when he was three-years-old, but he still played with Little People. 

21 March 2018

What's New at Kalahari in Sandusky, Ohio for 2018 + Win a Free Night!

This post is sponsored by Kalahari Sandusky, but all enthusiasm is my own.

Today is the first day of spring, and we currently have an ice storm as I type this.  Between the bitter cold weather and the crazy homeschool schedule, I am more ready for spring break than are my kids!  

We don't travel far because we have farm animals to feed daily, but Kalahari in Sandusky, Ohio, is just over an hour away and the perfect place to relax for a day.  We went last year, and my kids begged to go back before we had even left for the day.

My husband and I had a blast there too.  Usually when we go places, we spend our time watching the kids have fun.  I love watching my kids have fun, but we all got to play and fun at Kalahari.  

19 March 2018

Suzanne Somers Organics Review

This post has been sponsored by the PRIMP Network. All opinions are my own.

I grew up watching reruns of older shows, including Three's Company.  Suzanne Somers didn't play a strong female role in that show, but she is one in real life.  Not only is she a well known actress, but she's also a successful businesswoman.

You probably remember seeing her in commercials as the spokesperson for the Thighmaster back in the day.  She helped have a successful product launch back then, and it's still going strong today.

She also has an entire line of natural makeup, skin care, and hair care products that I had the pleasure of trying.  Keep reading for my Suzanne Somers Organics review.

16 March 2018

Best Essential Oils for Sleep

These are the best essential oils to help you sleep at night.

I take my sleep very seriously. I'm not a good mom or a good person to be around if I don't get enough sleep. And if I don't sleep well for more than two nights? Just leave me alone. Trust me, it's best for everyone involved for me to left alone.

There is no amount of coffee that will help when I get less than 6 hours of sleep.

Two of my kids are insomniacs. They can't fall asleep at night, even with melatonin, and then they want to sleep the day away. Even though we homeschool, we can't be starting our day at noon!

So I'm turning to the best essential oils for sleep. I'm sure you'll recognize a few on this list (ahem, lavender), but there might be some ones that are new to you that you may want to try.


Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission on sales.


It's no surprise that lavender essential oil is at the top of my list. It's known to be relaxing and help calm your mind. Lavender has been proven to increase sleep in nursing home patients when used in aromatherapy.

The effects of lavender are usually short lived and may only last about 20 minutes. If you have trouble falling asleep but can stay asleep, lavender just might help.


Ylang ylang is said to restore peace in your body and mind. It's best to diffuse it for about half an hour before you to bed to relax and diffuse it through the night.


Frankincense is said to help balance your emotions. This can lead to being able to fall asleep faster and sleep better.


Vetiver is one of my favorite essential oils for sleep. It's an earthy scent that helps stabilize your mood and calm you.


Marjoram is known as a joyful or happy essential oil. It's soothing and relaxes your mind, so you can fall asleep easier.


Just like chamomile tea is calming, so is chamomile essential oil is also calming. It's help ease anxiety and makes you more restful.


Cedarwood is a great all purpose essential oil, and it's generally inexpensive. It can help support your pineal gland. The pineal gland is what releases your body's natural melatonin, the hormone that makes you fall asleep.


Bergamot is a citrus oil, but it's not stimulating like other citrus essential oils. It can calm you down, which can help with sleep.


Try one of these blends for sleep:

  • 3 drops cedarwood, 3 drops lavender
  • 3 drops lavender, 3 drops bergamot
  • 3 drops sweet orange essential oil, 3 drops lavender
  • 2 drops marjoram, 2 drops lavender, 2 drops vetiver
  • 2 drops frankincense, 2 drops chamomile, 2 drops bergamot
  • 2 drops lavender, 2 drops vetiver, 2 drops frankincense
  • 3 drops vetiver, 3 drops lavender

I also use a Sweet Dreams custom blend from Crafty Bubbles. It has:

  • Lavender
  • German blue chamomile
  • Orange
  • Amyris
  • Frankensence
  • Ylang ylang
  • Lemongrass
  • Geranium
  • Cedarwood


Essential oils can be used both topically and through aromatherapy.


This is my preferred way to use essential oils for sleep or really any other ailment unless I don't want anyone else to get the effects of the oil. I diffuse the oils in my diffuser by adding a few drops of the oil. I have a special timer that I use so it shuts off in the middle of the night after I fall asleep.

READ The Best Essential Oil Diffuser and How to Use It

You can also use an essential oil inhaler before you go to bed. If I do that, I use it about half an hour before I go to sleep.


Essential oils can also be applied directly to your skin, but you have to dilute them first. I use a solid carrier oil stick or a roller bottle to apply it.

If you are using a liquid carrier oil, use 1 teaspoon of carrier oil and mix with 1-3 drops of essential oil.

You can apply the oil to the bottoms of your feet, back of the neck, or wrists.

READ List of Carrier Oils and Their Benefits


You can also make a misting spray that you can spray in your room when you go to bed. I like this because I can just keep the bottle beside my bed and with a quick spritz I'm done.

To make it, add one tablespoon of isopropyl alcohol to a 4 ounce bottle of water. Add up to 20 drops of essential oils listed above or a blend and fill with distilled water. Shake well before each use.

Spray on your pillow before you go to bed at night.


You can also use one of these essential oils or a blend in place of the essential oils in the following recipes:

Solid Essential Oil Stick
Natural Vapor Rub Recipe
Pain Relief Bath Salts
Solid Lotion Bars in Your Instant Pot (add 15 drops of oils)
Homemade Lotion


Even if you use the best essential oils for sleep, you still need to develop healthy sleeping habits. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This one is hard for me because I have to get up early Tuesdays and Thursdays and like to sleep in on Fridays and Saturdays. I feel a lot better if I go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day though.

Don't use blue light for half an hour before you go to bed. This includes TVs, your phone, tablet, or even a Kindle. This type of light can stimulate you too much, which makes it harder to go to sleep.

Limit your caffeine. I used to be horrible about getting a coffee in the late afternoon, but it would keep me up until the wee hours of the morning. Now I don't drink coffee after 2 pm or drink decaf like my homemade powdered toffee coffee recipe.


I buy all of my essential oils from Crafty Bubbles, and that's what you'll see in my photos and recipes. Their oils are at an unbeatable price and high quality.

I've been shopping at their store since my grandma took me before I was even in school, and I like to support local businesses. I started buying their essential oils about 10 years ago when they started carrying them. If you order from their site, I do not earn a commission. It would be really nice if you could tell them that Cari at Everything Pretty sent you even though I don't earn anything.

They have the largest selection in the catalog on their site, but you can also find some on Amazon.

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